Archive for the ‘Human Resources Management’ Category

Performance Evaluations: Time for Some Spring Cleaning?

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, discusses performance evaluations. He starts by offering information from several surveys that indicate that many employers are finding little value with their current evaluation system and have plans to revamp their process.

Doug says that annual reviews can be valuable and a necessary tool to improve performance if they are done right. When defining the right way to do a performance review, Doug starts by saying that most performance issues are hiring issues. An employer may hire an employee based on their skills, but then realize that employee does not fit the company culture. The employer then has to spend time helping them fit in.

He also says there should be no disagreement about what a successful performance should look like for a specific team member. Employees should receive clear expectations from their managers to ensure they understand what they need to achieve. Doug also suggests meeting with your employees regularly to check in with them to see how they are working towards their goals. The last point that Doug emphasizes is for employers to not make the review about the form, but to focus on the conversation instead.

If you’d like additional tips on creating a valuable performance evaluation system at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7756.

Enhancing Employee Strengths Will Help Your Company Perform Better

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Business meetingFindings from decades of research by Gallup indicate that employees who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged at their jobs. Gallaup’s research shows a clear connection between strengths and employee engagement. This connection can increase overall business performance when organizations work on enhancing both.

According to Gallup, the best way for employees to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel and behave, which will unveil their talents. The next step in the process is to then build on their talents to create strengths.

The extensive research shows that building employees’ strengths is a more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses. Benefits of focusing on strengths include employees who are more engaged, perform better and are more loyal to their organization. Yet, studies also show that the majority of US businesses don’t focus on helping employees use their strengths.

When companies put the spotlight on the strengths of their team members, they are more likely to have employees who are more committed to their business. Gallup found that the best way for employers to maximize the strengths of their workforce is through company managers. However, many managers aren’t adequately trained, choose to ignore their direct reports, or worse—highlight and focus on the weaknesses of their employees.

If your managers aren’t equipped to focus on employee strengths, read some of the blogs below to help you get them on the right track:

Ongoing Training Helps Managers Reach Success

Making sure your managers are adequately trained to handle their projects and supervise people is important no matter if your budget is large or extremely limited. Considering multiple budgets, here are a few ways to train your managers…read more:

Coaching Your Managers Will Bring Business Success

Help your managers communicate and connect with their employees better. Having strong connections between coworkers at your workplace will raise employee morale, increase productivity and affect your bottom line positively. Here are a few areas that your managers should be coached in…read more here:

How HR Can Help New Internally Promoted Managers Succeed

Supervisors and managers who are promoted from within an organization face unique challenges to their success in their new role and in their relationships with peers, supervisors and subordinates. Here are six tips for how HR can contribute to the success of an internal employee who is transitioning into a new supervisory or management role…read more here:

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Cash Shortage Deductions from Commission Payments

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team answers several questions from members daily. Many questions the Team receives deal with Wage & Hour issues and what is right under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Here’s a recent question the team received:

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

George Ports, Senior Executive and HR Advisor

Are Employers Allowed to Deduct Cash Shortages from a Salaried Exempt’s Commissions?

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution Team Member George Ports offers guidance for this employer question:

According to the US Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, cash shortage deductions from commission payments made to salaried exempt employees would not affect their exempt status under section 13(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as long as the affected employee meets both the duty and the guaranteed salary level tests required.

An employee will be considered to satisfy the salary level test if the employee is paid on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $455.00 per week. The salary basis test is met if the employee regularly receives each pay period “a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee’s compensation, which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed.” An exempt employee must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. [Note: There are limited exceptions regarding deductions from exempt pay. For more information, go to]

An employer may provide an exempt employee with additional compensation without losing the exemption or violating the salary basis requirement, if the employment arrangement also includes a guarantee of at least the minimum weekly-required amount paid on a salary basis. Thus, for example, an exempt employee guaranteed at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis may also receive additional compensation of a one percent commission on sales.

An exempt employee may receive a percentage of the sales or profits of the employer if the employment arrangement includes a guarantee of at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis. Similarly, the exemption is not lost if an exempt employee who is guaranteed at least $455 each week paid on a salary basis also receives additional compensation based on hours worked for work beyond the normal workweek. Such additional compensation may be paid on any basis (e.g., flat sum, bonus payment, straight-time hourly amount, time and one-half or any other basis), and may include paid time off. In other words, additional compensation paid on any basis besides the guaranteed salary is not inconsistent with the salary basis of payment.

Wage and hour regulations require only that exempt employees be paid a guaranteed salary of at least $455 per week, and any additional compensation above this salary amount is generally something that may be agreed upon between the employer and the employee. The prohibition against improper deductions from the guaranteed salary does not extend to any such additional compensation provided to exempt employees.

Cash shortage deductions, therefore may be made from a salaried exempt employee’s commission payments without affecting the employee’s exempt status as long as the commission payments are bona fide and are not paid to facilitate otherwise prohibited deductions from the guaranteed salary.

If you have wage and hour regulation questions, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

6 Fun Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged in the Springtime

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

spring flowersSpring has officially started. Although it’s still a little chilly, the weather will warm up and your employees will be energized for the new season. Spring brings longer days and additional opportunities to keep your employees satisfied, as well as reward them for the hard work they contribute to the company all year long.

Try some of the springtime activities below to keep your staff motivated and productive in the warmer months ahead:

  • March Madness is upon us! Have the basketball games playing in your break room for people who are fans of the tournament.
  • Spring is a great time for a company picnic. The season isn’t too hot or too cold to enjoy an outdoor gathering with your employees and their families. It will be a great opportunity to get to know them and the people who are most important to them.
  • Warmer weather means more chances to enjoy frozen treats. Show your staff some appreciation by throwing an afternoon gelato or ice cream party. You can buy the tasty treats and serve them yourself or have a vendor dish out the goodies.
  • Your employees will enjoy a more relaxed dress code when the weather is warmer. Giving them the choice to dress more comfortably throughout the spring will show your employees that you care about their happiness while they are at work.
  • Plan a warm-weather potluck lunch. Have staff members sign up for different food dishes to bring during the lunch hour. If the sun is shining, eat outside!
  • Encourage your team members to add some fitness into their schedules by planning a company walk in the late afternoon or after work. Walking and talking with your coworkers during nice weather is a great way to bond and burn calories.

For additional ideas for employee engagement activities, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

5 Things to Know From the 2014 HR Management Conference

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Branded ppt slideMore than 300 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s annual HR Management Conference this year. The conference took place on March 5 and March 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, and the theme was HR 20/20: Evolve. Focus. Lead.

The keynote presentations and breakout sessions featured several topics aimed to help HR professionals and company leaders stretch out of their comfort zones, acquire new skills and understand the power they hold to lead their organizations and achieve their business goals.

Speakers covered several subjects relevant to the ever-evolving HR Industry, such as optimizing employee potential, future proofing technology, eliminating organizational inefficiency and utilizing emotional intelligence. Below are five takeaways from the 2014 Conference:

  • Diana Newton discussed emotional intelligence in the workplace during her conference presentation, Why Emotional Intelligence Matters at Work.
    • Diana says the first step to understanding your emotional self is to be aware and understand your feelings and their impact
    • You must also respect and accept your strengths and weaknesses
    • You can improve your emotional intelligence by improving yourself, pursuing meaningful goals, and realizing your potential capabilities


  • For her presentation, Leadership Transition: How to Assess, Plan, and Implement a Successful Strategy, Cindy Anderson shared with participants the tools and steps for developing a sound succession plan at their companies. Here’s some information she imparted:
    • In order to get buy-in from company leaders to start a transition plan, you should:
      • Approach leadership with the specific reasons why a plan is important
      • Focus on how the transition plan will add value to the organization
      • Think about why leadership has resisted in the past and deliver a message that minimizes those fears
      • Propose a timeline
      • Consider the potential candidates for leadership (if any internally)


  • Shane Yount shared helpful information in his presentation, HR Metrics – Training to Drive Sustainable Business Processes. He gave the following tips for implementing a scorecard matrix to track business productivity:
    •  Identify key business focus areas
    •  Develop SMART objectives
    •  Create standards to measure results against
    •  Establish target thresholds and color code by performance
    •  Delegate responsibilities and hold people accountable for the tasks
    •  Set how often you plan to compare results – weekly, biweekly, quarterly, etc.


  • During Ellen Baker’s presentation, Working and Thriving in a Multicultural World, she shared some useful information for interacting in global work scenarios:
    •  Observe, observe, observe
    • A handshake or nod works almost anywhere
    • Use your right hand or both hands when making contact, but don’t use your left hand
    •  Err on the side of formality
    •  Respect and honor cultural norms, but be yourself
    •  Be compassionate, tolerant and flexible
    •  Success lies in humility- admit that there’s a lot you don’t know
    •  Keep your sense of humor
    •  Minimize gestures
    •  Smile, smile, smile


  • CAI announced the 2014 Ovation Award Winners:
    • Farragut Systems won the small company award for its Employee Performance and Development program
    • Tanger Outlet Centers won the mid-size company award for its Peer Assisted Learning program
    • AICPA won the large company award for its Grow the Ranks program


For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to


Top Reasons Why Employees Voluntarily Leave Your Company

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

FiringThere are several reasons employees decide to leave their jobs. Every employee has specific criteria that makes a job enjoyable or worth making a commitment to. Below are some of the top reasons employees quit their employers to start new positions at different companies.

Some employees do not want to tolerate the demands of their job position or suffer while their company is going through a hard time. Employees in this position may not want to put up with the following:

  • Weekend work, long hours or frequent travel
  • Additional administrative duties added to current job responsibilities, such as copying or filing
  • Raises and promotions currently unavailable
  • Corporate relocation of offices or manufacturing plant


Other employees are looking to work on their professional development and won’t stick around long at a place that doesn’t value employee training. To avoid this scenario at your company, consider providing your staff members with the following opportunities:

  • Training programs to develop and gain skills
  • Access to conferences related to their field or industry
  • Subscription to an industry or trade magazine


Many employees want to know if they can have a career at their current company. If there’s not a future in it for them, they may look for another company that will need them. Here are some ways to make sure you’re considering your employees’ long-term goals:

  • Ask your employees what they would like to gain from working with your company
  • Implement a program that identifies and trains high performers for leadership positions in the future
  • During your regular employee feedback meetings, get their input on the types of projects they enjoy working on and what they’d like to work on next and in the future


A poor company culture is a big reason why employees quit their jobs. Some of the specific reasons related to poor company culture that drive employees to leave include:

  • Constant reorganization of management structure and company direction
  • Rejection of ideas or suggestions to improve the environment
  • Favoritism of some workers over others by team leaders
  • Competition among departments or teams, creating an environment that is more about competing than cooperating.
  • Promoting employees with less training or experience over  more deserving and/or skilled employees


If you have questions regarding your organization’s retention strategy, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

Delivering Organizational Outcomes Through Strategic HR

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

CAI’s Managing Director of Strategic Members Services, Joe Bongiovi, breaks down HR in today’s video blog. He receives several calls from members asking about strategy and human resources and how the two fit together.

Joe thinks of HR in three circles: Strategy—the strategic part, Process—the operational part, and Transaction—the tactical part.

The tactical level of HR management includes things that need to get done, including paying employees and staying compliant with state and federal laws. The process level includes tasks that help the organization stay efficient and proactive, such as succession planning and paying for performance.  The strategic level of HR helps drive business outcomes, which may include organizational design, strategy development and change management.

In the video, he explains in detail both the traditional view and alternative view on how the three circles of HR fit together. Joe also explains why the alternative view is more successful in driving business outcomes.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team, including Joe, please call 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Professionalism – Establishing Your Emotional Patience

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary

The following is a guest post from Jay Rifenbary. Jay, a professional speaker and trainer, is president of Rifenbary Training & Development and author of the best-seller, No Excuse! – Incorporating Core Values, Accountability and Balance into Your Life & Career. He has expertise in the areas of personal and professional development, servant leadership, and communication training.

How do you define your level of professionalism? Is it based on your patience, performance under pressure, manners, personal charisma, beliefs, or is it a deeper sense of awareness and commitment to take the high road in all you do? Certainly how you physically and emotionally handle yourself under stress and pressure, and how you effectively communicate in the midst of any stress and pressure contributes to an understanding of how emotionally patient, and how professional you are.

To exude professionalism is to display a personal pride in yourself with an understanding that being humble is also part of the process. A person exemplifying genuine professionalism is never arrogant and understands that their professional behavior can have a positive, calming, and educational impact on those around them.

Professionalism is defined as, “professional character, spirit or methods.” I believe all three of those elements relate to the behavioral component of professionalism as much as the occupational component. A doctor may be exceptional in his or her specific field of practice, but if they lack professionalism it will have a detrimental impact on the doctor-patient relationship. If a coach knows his or her sport, but displays a lack of professionalism, it will ultimately negatively impact team morale and performance. Professionalism is not the job you do, it is how you do your job. As German philosopher Goethe said, “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image.”

As it relates to character, you do not respect someone who cannot maintain their level of professionalism in demanding situations, and they lose credibility. Who wants to associate with, or respects, an unprofessional individual? In respect to those in public service, it is completely evident how a lack of professionalism can destroy a career in an instant.

The development of one’s professionalism is significantly influenced by one’s past, upbringing and family relationships because of possible dysfunctional and codependent behavior patterns that were established growing up. When there is a history of emotional turmoil a defense mechanism is established to avoid any further similar emotional turmoil in the future. As an adult, this defense mechanism rears its ugly head when a situation may exist that triggers those past harmful emotions.

For example, if you are vulnerable to a feeling of inadequacy because of how you were parented, and a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel inadequate, you are less likely to maintain your professionalism.  As a child, if you perceived others not valuing who you were and developed a need to be appreciated, when a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel unappreciated you are less likely to maintain your professionalism. As a result in both instances, you become emotionally impatient as evidenced by potentially abusive verbal and physical behavior.

In evaluating your professionalism ask yourself, “In what situations am I, or have I, been the most emotionally impatient or unprofessional? What are the roots of that emotional impatience? Do I, and have I, taken ownership for the aftermath of my behavior where I have been emotionally impatient? Taking personal accountability, and implementing the core vales that reflect the positive characteristics you believe in, is key to enhancing and maintaining your professionalism. The more those beliefs are virtuous, to include decency and respect, the greater level of professionalism you will display.

Professionalism is also an educational process. There are certain behavioral characteristics that can be taught which contribute to a greater level of individual professionalism. Manners, proper etiquette, appropriate attire, effective communication, respectful behavior, and consideration of others are all areas that can be taught in the process of becoming more professional. An individual’s level of professionalism is a culmination of putting into practice the values, experiences, successes and failures of one’s life. Be that professional and positive example every day in all you do. It is an example that is sorely needed and will be respected by those you parent, manage, lead and love.

Jay is a keynote speaker for the 2014 HR Management Conference scheduled for March 5 and Mach 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. At the conference, he will share additional tips for establishing emotional patience and more. Visit today to register, view full agenda and review speaker information and presentation topics.


A Short Guide for Handling Workplace Relationships

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Business people discussing.Managing workplace relationships is a good topic to discuss with Valentine’s Day coming tomorrow. Most people focus their attention on romantic relationships, but knowing how to manage workplace friendships is just as important.

Having close relationships with some of the people you work with will have a positive effect on your work life, and because you spend so much of your time at work, friendships with your coworkers are likely to occur.  Some of the benefits workplace friendships provide include:  a more enjoyable work environment, better cooperation with group activities and positive outlets to release stress.

It’s also important to realize that workplace relationships can have negative effects on your work performance if you are not cognizant of potential distractions and harmful issues that could arise.

Try following some of these tips to ensure positive friendships at your company:

  • Remember that the primary reason you are at work is to do the job your employer pays you to do. Make sure your attention is focused on your assignments and not socializing with your coworkers.
  • Avoid sharing too much personal information with your workplace friends. Some information is not appropriate to share, such as salary or health issues. You also don’t want information you revealed privately to be shared, or,  worse, used against you
  • Try not to gossip. Discussing rumors about your manager or another coworker to your office buddy has the potential to taint your reputation or contribute to a toxic work environment. Be kind, treat others with respect, and report concerns or complaints in a more appropriate way.
  •  Don’t do your friend’s work. Certainly helping your coworkers when they are in need is a great display of teamwork. However, always helping a teammate finish his assignments because of his poor time management or other issues will harm your      productivity at work.
  • Spending all of your free time with your favorite coworkers is not recommended. Evade tension, jealousy or concerns of favoritism by switching up who you go to lunch with or talk to during your breaks.

Please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for any questions regarding workplace relationships.

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6 Workplace Perks Competitive Job Seekers Want from Employers

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Business meeting.In order to recruit, secure and retain high-performing employees, companies have to start thinking more competitively in regard to talent. Many companies are doing well as the economy continues to recover. With more companies growing and looking for new employees, highly-qualified job seekers have more freedom to pick and choose the right company for them.

Today’s job seekers believe work/life balance is achievable and will want to work for an employer who agrees. Below are some of the workplace perks top performers will be searching for:

Positive Culture

Your company‘s work environment is a critical factor in determining whether a job candidate accepts an offer or a high-achieving employee decides to stay. Employees want to work for organizations that respect both their work and life obligations. If you would describe your workplace culture as anything but positive, it’s time for your team to make adjustments and consider the number of ways you can increase employee morale and overall job satisfaction.


More job seekers are looking to work at companies that offer flexibility, and with more access to technology, working remotely is becoming an option for many employees. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to flexibility, but there are several options including: arriving late, leaving early, working from home, four-day work weeks, etc. Finding ways to make sure business gets done while your employees are content is now easier than ever before.


Allowing your employees to feel empowered is a win for them and a win for you. People don’t want to feel powerless. Giving your employees autonomy in their roles will help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You’ll also be able to cross more items off your do-to list when you give your employees more power. Delegating authority and trusting employees are qualities a well-trained manager should possess.

Opportunities for Growth

Your high-performing employees and enthusiastic job candidates want to work for a company with goals that align with their goals. Be open to discussing growth opportunities with your current staffers and those who may be joining your team. Opportunities for a promotion, raise or special project are likely to keep your staff members engaged. Employees want to know whether or not there is an open path for growth for them at your company.

Receive and Give Feedback

Receiving consistent positive and constructive feedback is essential for keeping your employees engaged. When employees don’t receive feedback, several negative repercussions can occur, such as employee frustration, bad manager-direct report relationships, or employees leaving. Your team members want to know that they are valued. So in addition to offering them feedback, you should also request their feedback on different company decisions. Whether it’s their job structure, a company wellness incentive or a new employee in the department, asking for their feedback shows that you fin them and their opinions valuable.

Continual Learning

A cost-effective way to increase job satisfaction at your organization is to provide your employees with additional training and education that will benefit their careers. Investing in your employees means that you are also investing in your company. Here are some inexpensive ways to help your employees and new hires continue to learn information from their fields: Encourage them to join professional groups and associations, set up a company mentor program, purchase subscriptions to industry-related literature, or sign them up for professional training.

For additional help on retaining employees or increasing company loyalty, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

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